Let mayors speak of neighbourhood

Wed 14, October 2020
16:30 - 18:00 CET

What happens to cooperation after a cross-border cooperation (CBC) project is over? Especially if implemented at the EU’s external borders...

Four mayors from European and Russian border regions are joining us to share their stories of cooperation in various fields, from tourism to border management and mobility, from culture to protection of natural resources. For over 10 years cross-border cooperation between the EU and Russia has fostered hundreds of projects, contributing to the improvement of life conditions for hundreds of thousands of people. Over 30% of project beneficiaries are represented by local and regional authorities. Building on the successful experience of the ENPI period, many local and regional administrations in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia continue their cooperation under the current generation of the Neighbourhood (ENI CBC) programmes, already preparing the ground for the next programming cycle (Interreg NEXT). Our workshop will showcase how CBC projects can build long-lasting relations between local and regional authorities across the borders. The mayors will be introduced by the interventions from the four programme representatives.

Iveta Puzo, Key Expert, TESIM/Particip GmbH, Belgium.
Raul Kudre, Mayor, Setomaa Rural Municipality, Estonia.
Andrey Sergeev, Acting Head, Administration of the Sovetsk Urban District, Russia.
Satu Sikanen, Regional Mayor, Regional Council of South Karelia, Finland.
Sonja Alice Steen, Representative, County Council of Nordland, Norway.
Cohesion and Cooperation
Center of European Projects, Council of Oulu Region, Latvia-Russia Cross-Border Cooperation Programme 2014-2020, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Regional Council of Lapland, Regional Council of South Karelia, State Shared Service Centre
English (EN)

Session summary

300 projects are currently being implemented between the EU Member States, Norway and the Russian Federation as part of seven ENI CBC programmes (Northern cluster), involving more than 850 organisations. Around 30% of these projects are led by local and regional authorities from border areas. We heard four first-hand testimonials – from Finnish, Norwegian, Estonian and Russian mayors – about the achievements, benefits and added value that cross-border cooperation projects are bringing to their cities and regions. These projects strengthen relations between the EU, Norway and Russia in the fields of economic development, environmental protection, border management and people-to-people cooperation. These thematic fields of cooperation were presented by four representatives of the Northern cluster programmes.

Take away message

Since the 90s, several generations of CBC projects have been contributing to building trustworthy relations between local and regional authorities in the EU, Norway and Russia. They result in numerous twinnings, exchanges, study visits and – what is more important – in the mutual willingness to work together. The four mayors stressed their eagerness to continue cooperation in the 2021-2027 programming period. This main message was shared by the workshop participants too, who defined the neighbourhood relations as "friendship", "trust" and "opportunities".

"International cooperation is hugely important for the development of the Arctic, but this must also actively include voices at regional level. Through dialogue and cooperation, we can develop joint solutions to build an attractive and prosperous Arctic society."

Sonja Alice Steen

Representative of the County Council of Nordland (Norway)

"Estonia and Russia share a common transboundary waterbody – Lake Peipsi. Its biggest problems are heavy agricultural pollution and overfishing. Our projects analyse water and fish stock resources, improve wastewater treatment facilities and build small harbours."

Raul Kudre

Mayor of Setomaa Rural Municipality (Estonia)


"Sovetsk is a border town located on the bank of the Neman river and connected to the Lithuanian coast by the Queen Luisa bridge. Through the CBC projects, we strive to preserve cultural heritage sites on both sides of the border and promote common border history."

Igor Firsikov

Head of the administrative department of the Sovetsk Urban District (Russia)

"Millions of passengers cross the EU-Russian border every year through our multiple border-crossing points. With our large-scale projects we renovate roads, reconstruct bridges, build new lanes and invest in new equipment and facilities for border-crossing points for better and safer passenger and freight transport."

Satu Sikanen

Regional Mayor, Regional Council of South Karelia (Finland)